As 2021 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the past year and what we’ve accomplished.
Though not without challenges or volatility (from the ongoing pandemic that’s impacted our own team to the Great Resignation), it’s been a rewarding year with significant wins for employee finances within Sunny Day Fund, the organizations we work with, and across the larger workforce landscape.
Here are three main highlights from the year and why we’re looking forward to the year ahead:
WORKFORCE FINANCIAL WELL-BEING & EQUITY A PRIORITY
Workforce financial well-being is finally becoming a priority, and I felt that directly within organizations where we launched Sunny Day Fund.
But what catalyzed this shift? If you read the papers, the labor supply shock created by the pandemic forced organizations to revisit wages and benefits so they could attract and retain people. The cynic in me feels that the changes we are seeing in wage growth at the “bottom of the workforce pyramid” are purely a result of this supply shock.
The optimist in me, though, feels that data surrounding workforce financial inclusion & equity, and ease of win-win interventions with programs like ours is finally becoming undeniable. Research featured by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, for example, discussed disparities in retirement savings assets and behavior across income and race. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Aspen Financial Security Program, AARP Research, Commonwealth, Financial Health Network, and many more carried the flag of employer-driven solutions that improved workforce financial well-being and business outcomes. And importantly, large employers chose to innovate and began implementing these recommendations, sharing their data for the benefit of all along the way.
This growing shift from “what are we doing to cover financial wellness?” to “how are all of our employees achieving financial well-being?” is invigorating to witness and be part of.
Now let’s share what we achieved at Sunny Day Fund.
In 2021, we helped workers earning between $13/hour to $25/hour achieve average gross savings of over $1,000. Employees leaned on these savings to overcome financial emergencies, but also save towards immediate goals like buying a car critical to getting to work. By hitting the $1,000 mark, employees on our platform became 4x more financially resilient than the 47% of Americans that struggled with a $250 unexpected expense in late 2020. They also achieved measurably better financial well-being, per the CFPB scale.
We also convinced employers to contribute $200 to $600+ a year, per employee, as a reward for saving through the Sunny Day Fund. And that reward, in turn, has yielded unbelievable retention – nearly 90% for participants over the last year even through the Great Resignation / Great Renegotiation!
There are many more moments that I’d love to share – like how we helped a near-retiree get their first bank account ever, which honestly brought tears to my eyes, or how our first Saver interviewee raved about us and has become an evangelist. These vignettes inspire us every day to chase our “delusional” mission. Perhaps in another update…
All of this means we have happy clients and employees that are loving our results, and have renewed with us – a result we can all appreciate in creating a sustainable business!
IN THE NEWS: CLIENTS FEATURED IN WSJ & SHRM
For the first time, we also saw major media and organizations cover truly unrestricted workplace emergency savings programs.
We were thrilled that Sunny Day Fund customers were at the top of the coverage list.
One standout article was written by The Wall Street Journal. WSJ featured Ascent Living Communities, which offers premium assisted living facilities in Denver. Employees at Ascent are now earning 17% to 36% in interest per year, sponsored by the company and capped at $300 a year, to grow their savings through our Sunny Day Fund platform.
The article showcased the ability of companies to offer competitive rewards for workplace emergency funds, a strategy that’s effective for both employee finances and employee retention.
“The longer you are tenured with us, the higher the interest rate will be,” said Tom Finley, the organization’s co-founder.
According to Finley, “I see the Sunny Day Fund as a complement to the 401(k) plan, which attracts higher earners. My hope is that 80% to 90% of the employee base will contribute to either a 401(k) or the Sunny Day Fund.”
Alleghany Warehouse Co. has a similar story. The family-owned warehousing & logistics company was featured by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) for offering employees emergency savings accounts with a payroll deduction and substantial rewards through Sunny Day Fund.
Alleghany sponsors interest at 5% on average balances at the end of each quarter up to a maximum of $200 per year, and are doubling down on the great traction this year with even more robust rewards next year. According to Jeb Bryan, the company’s president, “This equates to an interest rate … well above anything you can find in the market.”
SUNNY DAY FUND JOINED NETWORKS THAT EMPOWER EMPLOYEES
No individual or business can accomplish all of this alone, and that’s why we sought out mission-aligned networks. In 2021, Sunny Day Fund joined several high-caliber networks that champion financial inclusion & equity, employee finances, and technology-driven impact.
We partnered with incredible investors this Fall as a part of our Seed raise, and those investors in kind have opened their networks for customers, channels, and – perhaps most immediately importantly – team members. A special shout out to the team at Trail Mix Ventures for leading our round; if you haven’t yet read Soraya’s thesis on us, please visit their Medium to read here!
One amazing stat: 89% of our investment came from women and people of color!
TECHSTARS + WESTERN UNION
Sunny Day Fund was part of the first 100% diverse class in the Techstars + WesternUnion Accelerator Class of ’21. With only a 2% selection rate, we were honored to be chosen for this competitive class.
The program focused on companies “working toward closing the socioeconomic gap and amplifying globalization.” We spent over 200 hours with mentors and investors to grow our team, grow our sales, and close our Seed ahead of Demo Day in October 2021.
GLOBAL GOOD FUND
Another honor this year for me personally was being selected as a Fellow for the Global Good Fund. I was grateful to be among 11 other inspiring Fellows from across the world, chosen from a pool of over 3,000 applicants. Equipped with coaching and business mentorship at a C-suite level, I was able to mature as a CEO and sustain my mental health in an otherwise turbulent year.
GENER8TOR IMPACT ACADEMY
We also joined Gener8tor’s Impact Academy. The Gener8tor Impact Academy is a members-only network focused on bridging impact-first companies like us with resources and early customer feedback to enable iterative growth. It also offers an intimate forum for CSR and DEI leaders to dive deep into social, cultural, and civic issues while exchanging best practices with peer executives.
U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TALENT FINANCE INITIATIVE NETWORK
After being a panelist at the Aspen Institute’s Savings Summit, we were grateful that many others with similar missions connected with us about potential collaborations. One that’s now public is Sunny Day Fund joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Finance Initiative Network.
The Talent Finance Initiative Network explores new ways to invest in people and skills that keep pace with innovation and advance economic opportunity, diversity, inclusion, and competitiveness. Powered by the Federal Reserve of Atlanta and many other entities, this initiative is laying the groundwork for employer innovators as they stabilize employees’ finances and create financial opportunities for the future.
Finally, we’re excited to announce our latest news – Sunny Day Fund was thrilled to be selected by forward-thinking financial institution partners as part of the MassChallenge FinTech program.
MCFT matches enterprise-ready fintechs like us with financial institutions like MassMutual to deliver new financial technology innovations at scale. Check out the fresh news release here.
Thank you to all of these networks for believing in the Sunny Day Fund mission as we do!
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
There’s much to be excited about based on this year alone, and there’s reason to be even more excited for the upcoming new year. With new program launches with clients from Hawaii to Virginia, we’re thrilled to scale our impact.
I am also excited for team members joining us – folks that independently and just as fiercely share in our passion. And that team is rapidly growing because there’s so much more to accomplish. Check out some of our team below during our Dec 2021 planning retreat atop University of Virginia’s Sands Grounds in Rosslyn!
At Sunny Day Fund, we constantly remind ourselves of who we serve – financially underserved employees and their conscious employers – and why – because it’s the right thing to do AND makes business sense.
We extend a big thank you to all you – our supporters – for propelling us forward. Our team and I truly appreciate you. Wishing you all a happy holiday season and a Sunny New Year!!